The prevalent Asian consumption habit has it that most food has to be sufficiently cooked over a fire (or heat in some cases) for them to be hygienic and to taste good. But there is also an inherent instinct among some to eat food as fresh as they could be so as to savour the natural sweetness and texture of the ingredients. Some of these are presented as chilled or cold dishes which are popular especially in the hot summer seasons of Asia.
My previous, first, attempt at a chilled dish was the Thai Mango salad. It was love at first taste; I got hooked onto chilled dishes like this ever since. Thereafter, I discovered that every culture has at least one unique cold or chilled dish that deserves more attention than they now receive. These dishes never fail to surprise me in terms of their taste, sight and smell. In terms of culinary variety and choices, I personally feel that they fare much better than their Western counterparts too.
My second attempt at a chilled Asian dish is this Japanese dish here called Hiyashi chuka (冷やし中華), or chilled Japanese ramen. It is one filled with colourful summer vegetables, all of which add layers to the texture of the noodles. Top it up with a spicy and tangy sesame oil dressing and it is ready to go!
- Instant noodles (plain): 4 packs
- Ice: 1 bowl (to chill noodles)
- Egg: 4
- Sugar: 4 tsp
- Salt: 1/2 tsp
- Oil: 2 tbsp
- Ham slices: 10, sliced into strips
- Lettuce: 1/2, shredded
- Cucumber: 1, julienned or grated
- Cherry tomato: 1 pack, halved
- Bean sprouts: 150g, washed, roots removed, blanched quickly in boiling water
- Sweet corns: 1 can, with 1/4 cup (6 tbsp) syrup reserved for sauce
- Pea sprouts (dou miao): 150g, washed
- Rice vinegar: 1/3 cup (2 tbsp per serving)
- Sugar: 2/3 cup (1.5 tbsp per serving)
- Light soy sauce: 1/2 cup (4 tbsp per serving)
- Sesame oil: 1/4 cup (1 tbsp per serving)
- Water: 1/4 cup (2 tbsp per serving)
- Chillies (optional): 2, washed and chopped
- Sesame seeds (optional): 1 tsp per serving
- Cook noodles in boiling water. Drain and chill in ice water for 2 min.
- Beat eggs with sugar and salt.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in wok. Pour half of egg mixture into wok and tilt to form a circle.
- Cook omelette for 1 min. Flip to the other side and cook for another 30 secs.
- Remove from wok. Fold both sides to center to form a rectangular parcel.
- Leave to cool before slicing into thin strips.
- Repeat steps 3 to 6 for the other half of egg mixture. Set aside.
- Drain water from noodles. Divide into 4 portions and place in separate bowls.
- Top with strips of omelette, ham, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, bean sprouts, corns and pea sprouts.
- Mix vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, water and corn syrup (from can) together.
- Stir in chillies to mix.
- Drizzle sauce onto salad. Sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve.
- Drizzle the sauce directly onto the noodles before mixing in the vegetables so as to make the noodles tastier and sweeter.
- Serve this as a refreshing salad (sans noodles) with just the vegetables, drizzled with the same sauce for a similarly refreshing snack!
- This is a very healthy dish of greens – and fresh ones at that, making it a nice dish to chill off with in the afternoon. I personally like the pea sprouts, lettuce and corns best. It can also be a less complicated dish if you wish to stick to using just three or four of your favourite vegetables/ingredients to mix into your noodles.
- Replace the instant noodles with Japanese ramen to savour a more authentic flavour of this dish.